June 2015

First published in the Business Intelligence Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2 (June 2015)

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The traditional BI architecture approach consists of a single stack of layers with data managed and moved from layer to layer. There were (and still are) good reasons for this design, but modern business needs drive another approach. Today’s speed of response and breadth of data types dictate an architecture composed of pillars of data across multiple technologies and a new approach to integrating metadata as context-setting information across these pillars.

This article outlines the conceptual- and logical-level architectures that emerge from the data and processing needs of modern business operating in a world of abundant information, high connectivity, and powerful technology. Recognizing three distinct types of data, the architecture supports shared context across these types and the key role of traditional, modeled data in creating consistency and enabling governance. By defining pillars of data as a logical design, this approach supports optimization of technology choices and eases migration from current implementations, in contrast to the data lake approach favored by some in the industry.